Raises pending for SLO council, manager and attorney

April 11, 2014

slo city hallBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

Each member of the San Luis Obispo City Council, as well as the city manager and city attorney could receive pay raises in the coming weeks.

This week the council is holding closed session meetings in which they are considering bumps in pay for both City Manager Katie Lichtig and City Attorney Christine Dietrick. Next week, the council will choose whether to grant themselves raises of up to $6,000 a year.

Lichtig is currently in her fifth year as city manager. She has never received a raise in San Luis Obispo, and she did take a cut in benefits after asking her staff to reduce its pay. Still, Lichtig makes more than $300,000 annually in total compensation.

Dietrick makes nearly $250,000 in total compensation. She received raises each of the last two years, even though the city lost a costly lawsuit and its legal liability insurance expenses spiked.

If the council chooses to increase the pay of either Lichtig or Dietrick, it must do so in open session.

At the upcoming April 15 council meeting, city staff will recommend that council member salaries increase from $1,000 a month to $1,200 a month and that the mayor’s salary increase from $1,200 a month to $1,500. The recommendation comes from a council compensation committee consisting of a former councilman, a personnel board representative and three members of the public.

Under the proposal, the annual base salaries of council members would increase from $12,000 to $14,400. The mayor’s annual salary would increase from $14,400 to $18,000.

The compensation committee is also suggesting that the council grant itself the option to opt out of taking health benefits and instead receive additional pay. The proposal would allow council members to receive $200 a month, or $2,400 annually, if they choose to forgo their medical, dental and vision coverage.

Including the health benefit opt out pay, total council member compensation would increase $4,800, and the mayor’s total pay would increase $6,000 under the current proposal.

Of the current council members, only Councilwoman Kathy Smith and Councilman John Ashbaugh received more than $1,000 worth of health benefits last year. Smith’s 2013 health plan cost $5,772 and Ashbaugh’s cost $15,204.

Ashbuagh was the highest compensated council member in San Luis Obispo County last year. Including regional board pay, he received nearly $30,000 in total compensation

In January, Ashbaugh told CalCoastNews that he would oppose an increase in council pay if the compensation committee recommended one. He previously took a pay cut proportional to the one city staff accepted.

Last year, Mayor Jan Marx received $17,933.90 in total compensation from the city of San Luis Obispo, according to figures compiled by the human resources department. Smith received $20,607.64 in total pay, and Councilman Dan Carpenter received $11,410.96. Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson, who joined the council in July, received $6,939.97.

In Feb. 2013, Andrew Carter left the council to become city administrator of Guadalupe. In his final three full years on the council, Carter averaged about $30,000 a year in total compensation.

When polled by the city on whether or not he found council pay to be appropriate, he suggested that council members receive about $40,000 a year in base salaries. Carter recommended that the city pay its mayor $50,000 to $60,000 a year in base salary.

Carter wrote on a questionnaire that he spent at least 40 hours a week on council business and, at times, 60 hours or more a week. Other past council members and mayors who filled out the questionnaire stated on average that they would spend 20 to 30 hours a week conducting council business.

In addition to proposing the boost in council pay, the compensation committee also recommended increases for planning commissioners and members of the Architectural Review Commission. The compensation committee suggested raising pay for planning and architectural review commissioners from $50 a meeting to $60 a meeting.


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Let us not forget about the 3.5% raise the City Attorney Christine Dietrick received April 2012 and then another 4.5% received in May 2013. Another shocker, it was approved by a unanimous vote!


She’ll be getting a bigger boost this year I’m sure, as she is a key player for Marx and getting measure “Y” on the ballot without a 2/3’s vote.

Folks, let’s not ignore or forget how the power corrupts. Public service is not a right; the right to serve is earned through honesty, integrity and transparency. Trust is also an earned privilege and should not be wasted on the power hungry, promise the world and kiss the babies politicians; it should be reserved for those who live it.

WTF? When was the last time Dietrick WON a lawsuit??? Someone should do a calculation of what she has actually COST the city.

She costs the city “ZERO”, she only costs the taxpayers and there is always more money there, just put in place another tax, fee, assessment, or some new term. No reason for accountability. The council will just raise their salaries, and give Ms. Dietrick another raise. Glad you got the city government you wanted, you voted for them right?

They should give each other awards as well and include the SLO County Supervisors. ….”and the annual Bruce Gibson adulterer award goes to….Bruce Gibson!”

The real story here is that SLO has had a employee performance, position, salary range ongoing this past year. Obviously, it must be over or some of the results are done.

This is only the beginning of the domino theory. The Council will adjust their salaries from a committee they appointed to review their compensation. The Council then will review the compensation for the City Manager and City Attorney because those are the two positions in the City that the Council personally appoint.

Then, because this is all based on a tier program, the department heads which Katie appoints will be next, followed by the managers and supervisors which the department heads hire and then, the City public safety departments and general unit employees will meet and confer and the City will be giving everyone a raise within the next year to 18 months. All that folks is how the system works.


Ok so I’m a little confused about how a government body can vote on items that DIRECTLY affect them monetarily without it being classified as a conflict of interest?

This goes on in all levels of government and should cease immediately. There should not be an opportunity for any sitting government official to increase the taxpayer funded paycheck they receive during their term of service, PERIOD.

Their performance should be evaluated by the taxpayers they serve and if a 2/3 majority feel their performance is in line with an increase, grant it.

My next question would be about the “Compensation Committee” that recommended the pay increases to “Staff”. Who appoints the members of this compensation committee? How does the selection process work? The answer, I’m sure will be very interesting for all to know.

By the way, not sure if anyone else noticed that the mayor who currently makes $200.00 more than council members, will increase to $300.00 more than council members.

It’s been brought to my attention that the City council appoints the members of the compensation committee. What a shocker…NOT

Not only do they deserve raises, they also deserve trophies. They should vote themselves some nice trophies and plaques as well.

Perhaps they can ask Adam to present them with one of his special medallions.

The City Manager of Los Angeles (over 4,000,000 residents) makes 262K per year.

That’s because LA is not happy like SLO.

Next thing you know, they’ll be comparing us to the City of Bell.

Simply amazing how these two city employees have not been fired. Morro Bay City Council fired their City Manager and. City Attorney after 20 years of service each. They were well liked and respected in the community and by employees. I have heard nothing but great things about them from all over SLO County and in Morro Bay. They made no costly mistakes as documented above but got fired. How can these two in SLO continue to make mistakes and not lose their job. Here’s an idea fire these two and hire the two from Morro Bay.

She’s already making 75% of what the President of the United States makes. She’s also making $60,000+ more than the Vice President of the United States.

Vote no on any tax increases.

Obviously our President is not paid for performance.